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Banned Kurdish group PKK claims responsibility for suicide attack in Turkey’s capital

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The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has asserted responsibility for a recent suicide attack at the heart of the Turkish capital. Two individuals were injured in the incident, which saw two attackers detonate a bomb in front of Turkish government buildings on Sunday, leading to their demise and injuring two police officers.

The ANF news agency released a statement describing the attack as a “suicide attack” coordinated with the reopening of parliament. It stated that the assailants were “a team of ours linked to our Immortals Battalion” group. It’s important to note that the PKK is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.

According to reports from the state-run Anadolu Agency, the attackers had commandeered a vehicle from a veterinarian in the central province of Kayseri, approximately 260 kilometers southeast of Ankara.

CCTV footage revealed a vehicle stopping at the interior ministry’s main gate, with one occupant swiftly advancing towards the building before being consumed by an explosion, while the other remained on the street. The interior minister confirmed that one attacker was killed by the blast, and authorities “neutralized” the other. This incident sent shockwaves through a central district housing ministerial buildings and the nearby parliament.

The suicide attack occurred just hours before the Turkish parliament’s scheduled reopening after a three-month summer recess, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivering an address. President Erdogan characterized the blast as “the latest attempt” to spread fear among the Turkish populace and declared, “Those who threaten the peace and security of citizens have not achieved their goals and never will.”

Notably, both the PKK and ISIL (ISIS) have perpetrated similar attacks in Turkish tourist areas and city centers in the past.

Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, noted increased security measures around parliament and interior ministry buildings following the attack. She reported, “They [authorities] have cleared the area… There is damage on the security entrance of the ministry, and workers are trying to fix the damages. There is also a Turkish flag by the gate to express solidarity and the territorial integrity of the country.”

The explosion on Ataturk Boulevard marks the first such incident in Ankara since March 2016 when 37 people lost their lives in a bomb-laden car explosion at a crowded central transport hub. Police have conducted controlled explosions in response to “suspicious package incidents” in other parts of Ankara.

This occurrence comes nearly a year after a busy pedestrian street in central Istanbul witnessed an explosion resulting in six fatalities and 81 injuries, which Turkey attributed to Kurdish fighters. Throughout 2015 and 2016, a series of violent incidents involving Kurdish, ISIL, and other groups either claimed or were attributed to several attacks in major Turkish cities.

In the upcoming weeks, Turkey’s parliament is expected to deliberate on Sweden’s bid to join NATO, following initial objections and delays in the enlargement of the alliance. While President Erdogan did not mention Sweden or NATO explicitly, he emphasized that agreeing on a new constitution was a top priority for the new session. The parliament speaker affirmed that their agenda would not be swayed by “terror.”

European Council President Charles Michel strongly condemned the “terrorist attack,” while EU Commissioner for Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi reiterated the EU’s support for Turkey “in its fight against terrorism.”

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